Pew Charitable Trusts: Grants for Environmental Conservation

OVERVIEW: Pew reflects a consolidation of seven funds; its assets total about $5 billion. Now a public charity, Pew conducts one of the largest oceans advocacy programs in the world. Pew is no longer a foundation, and has no marine grantmaking program, but generously supports partners in marine causes. 

IP TAKE: Pew stopped operating as a foundation in 2002, and does not accept applications for grants. However, the organization offers large grants and oversees a few competitive programs worth noting.

PROFILE: The work of Pew Charitable Trusts is expansive. The Philadelphia-based organization has a trust of about $5 billion, facilitates more than 40 active projects, and employs about 1,000 people. In addition, it boasts a complete research arm. The trusts originally emerged from seven charitable funds established from 1948 to 1979 by family related to the founder of the Sun Oil Company. Its interests were scattered, and it ceased functioning as a foundation in 2002. Today Pew operates as an independent nonprofit organization. Across its grantmaking, Pew "is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems." While it maintains five programs, each of them houses several subprograms, which makes the Pew's reach truly wide-reaching.

Pew funds conservation causes through its dedicated environment program. Pew’s work in the United States and abroad helps preserve wilderness, restore biodiversity, and increase understanding of ocean ecology. The program features three subprograms: oceans, environment science, and Land Conservation. Pew’s land conservation work spans the United States, Canada and Australia; ultimately, it seeks to "safeguard public land for future generations." Its conservation works relies on science research, biology, and ecology in order to "advocate for sound solutions to the loss of biodiversity."

With the 2002 shift, the funder also gravitated more toward an emphasis on its own program work, hence the 1,000 employees of its own. The environment arm has 275 staff and consultants working in four continents and 15 countries. Pew works in three main areas when it comes to the environment — oceans, land conservation, and energy. Marine work is definitely the biggest of the priorities, and the organization runs one of the largest oceans advocacy programs in the world. Read more about Pew’s marine work here: Pew Charitable Trusts: Grants for Marine and Rivers.

Pew supports established, large organizations and institutes. Grants range from $30,000 to well into the millions. Past grantees include Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Ocean Conservancy, Montana Wilderness Association, Earthjustice, and other state groups such as the California Wilderness Coalition.

Grantseekers are advised to read each subprogram and grant opportunity in-depth as requirements are subject to change. For instance, while most programs do not accept unsolicited proposals, some offer other restrictions. At the bottom of the main pain, grantseekers can also sign up for a weekly newsletter and grant news. 


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So again, while Pew doesn’t operate as a foundation anymore, and doesn’t accept proposals, it nonetheless is a huge player in conservation in North America, and much of that translates into financial support for partners in the local areas where it operates.  


  • Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only.)